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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Call to Action: Excerpts from Dan Ashe's Speech at the Conserving the Future Conference

Below you'll find excerpts from our Director Dan Ashe’s “Call to Action” speech, delivered July 14, at the Conserving the Future Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.  Learn more about the conference at http://www.americaswildlife.org.  

We must, in effect, win over the hearts and minds of the American people. That’s a call to action for each of us—both professional and citizen conservationists.

First, I am asking the Refuge System staff to take the work we have done this week and incorporate the best ideas into the final vision for Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation. I want the final vision document completed by Refuge Week in mid-October.

I want this vision to define a future state, but I want it to respect the past and the partnerships and traditions that have brought us to this point.

The Refuge System Leadership Team will guide the implementation of our vision. I am signing a charter today that spells out that charge. The Leadership Team will meet in October and lay out a detailed set of priorities and timelines for implementation of the final vision.

I am establishing today the first three vision implementation teams.

The first team will be charged with finalizing policy for strategically growing the Refuge System. We need a rapid, top-to-bottom review of current land acquisition projects. We need clear priorities and biological objectives in order to decide how many new projects we can take on and how to select them. ... I expect a charter for this team and selection of its members in 30 days.

The recommendation for a new urban refuge initiative is exciting and innovative. It is clear we need some of our best thinkers to flesh out the details of how we can invest in the great urban refuges we already have in places like Denver, Minneapolis, San Francisco, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland. ...

… This will be the charge for the second implementation team. I expect a charter for this team and selection of its members in 30 days. ...    

There is nothing more important to me as Director than developing the next generation of conservation leaders. Our approach to leadership development must be holistic. ...  

... I am chartering a new Leadership Development Council that builds on the successful approach we used to implement Fulfilling the Promise.

Its task will be to take on the vision recommendations for leadership and organizational excellence. I expect a charter for this team and selection of its members in 45 days. ... 

I am betting some time about 2025, there will be another gathering like this one. They will marvel at the progress that has been made. ...

We cannot know with any certainty what our accomplishments will be.

But we know with certainty our vision for conserving refuges in a landscape context, for strong science in the Refuge System, for a connected conservation constituency and for leadership and excellence is the foundation for the accomplishments ahead.

We know we will save more dirt. We know our children and our grandchildren will be grateful. We know our nation’s precious wildlife heritage will be conserved.

Let’s stay together—and get to work. ...

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